PRESS STATEMENT By People’s National Congress Reform Friday 14 November 2008 Media Centre, Congress Place, Sophia



• The current financial crisis is the worst economic setback for the global economy. All of this is occurring at a time when Guyanese are already suffering, as a consequence of the economic burdens inflicted by the incompetence of the Jagdeo Administration and the callous imposition of the 16% VAT;
• It is a known fact that bills from GPL and GWI have been extremely high and have worsened the economic circumstances of our citizens;
• It is apposite to note that the People’s National Congress Reform has been arguing that, in order to get to the bottom of crime, the GPF needs to apprehend criminals, interrogate them within the confines of the law, and bring them to Justice before the Courts;
• The Government needs to develop clear rules and regulations to protect the health and safety of those working on the removal of asbestos and those who occupy those buildings.

GUYANA GOVERNMENT MUST IMPLEMENT IMMEDIATE RELIEF MEASURES TO CUSHION THE EFFECTS OF THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS:

Remittances to Guyana have been as high as US$424M or 42% of the GNP. With rising unemployment in the USA, there has already been a 35% decline in remittances. Because of the high dependence of a large section of the Guyanese population on remittances, for their day-to-day survival, this crisis is likely to result in damaging increases in the levels of destitution and desperation, as the already large army of the poverty stricken is swollen.

The current financial crisis is the worst economic setback for the global economy. It has challenged the western financial system and has put the economies of the BRICK (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea) countries under severe strain. There has been a global response and at several meetings the representatives of these countries have attempted to reach some understanding of the nature of the crisis and how it might be resolved. The G-20 Meeting in Brazil this weekend is a further attempt to understand and to act to bring the global financial crisis under control. At the regional level, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is expected to meet and take action on this crisis.

All of this is occurring at a time when Guyanese are already suffering, as a consequence of the economic burdens inflicted by the incompetence of the Jagdeo Administration and the callous imposition of the 16% VAT. It is evident, that the significant reduction in remittances will create a shortage of US$’s and result in further increases in the cost-of-living in Guyana.

In the circumstances, it was expected that the Administration would be proactive and develop its own stimulus plan to bring relief to the Guyanese people. Our best minds should have been put to work to prepare a viable programme to rescue the Guyana economy. Such a programme would compliment the work being done by CARICOM and serve as a basis for representation in other international fora. Instead, there have been several disjointed statements from the President himself and the resident confusionist, Dr. Luncheon, suggesting that Guyana is somehow immune from the crisis and that, all that is necessary is some sort of monitoring capability.

The PNCR has been on record, before the current crisis, urging the Administration to implement suitable measures to provide positive relief to cushion, particularly the vulnerable sections of the society, from the dire economic and social burdens which has resulted in the rapid increase in poverty in Guyana. The current global financial crisis is likely to aggravate and worsen the existing economic and social situation in Guyana.

FALLING OIL PRICES MUST SEE REDUCTION IN GPL AND GWI TARIFFS:

The price of oil has been falling sharply on international markets. This week it was below the US$63 per barrel. Falling oil prices has been a fact of international life for quite some time.

Given our current economic stringencies and difficulties, especially as these affect vulnerable groups, such as our pensioners and those on fixed incomes, the Jagdeo regime must move with dispatch to reduce the tariffs imposed by the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) and Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) in order to bring some relief to our hard pressed people.

It is a known fact that the bills from GPL and GWI have been extremely high and have worsened the economic circumstances of our citizens. In fact, apart from the high cost of food, the cost of electricity and water constitute the major element of expenditure for most of our people.

PNCR BELIEVES THAT DEPOLITICISED POLICE FORCE IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING POSITIVE RESULTS:

The PNCR has always argued that the Guyana Police Force, if well resourced and capably led, without political interference, but with the mechanisms to deal with its own rogue elements, is capable of performing in a professional manner to deal with crime efficiently and effectively.

A testimony to this view is their improved performance in relation to the road traffic situation. Equipped with radar guns, improved transportation and the absence of political interference in their operations, the Police have been able to reduce the fatalities on the road and to recreate a sense that the traffic laws can be enforced in Guyana. While there is much more to be achieved, including a decrease in corrupt practices and a change in the attitude of some traffic policemen, no one can deny that there has been improvement in the functioning of the Traffic Department of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

We believe that a similar approach, in which the Police Force is well resourced, independent of the political directorate, with a proper intelligence network and more modern methods of interrogation that eschew torture will result in success in the fight against crime and criminal enterprises.

It is apposite to note that the People’s National Congress Reform has been arguing that, in order to get to the bottom of crime, the GPF needs to apprehend criminals, interrogate them within the confines of the law, and bring them to Justice before the Courts. It is evident that the intelligence thereby obtained would enable the GPF to better understand the nature of crime and be enabled to find the masterminds and destroy the criminal enterprises at their root.

The success of the Joint Services in dealing with the GuySuco payroll heist is an indication that, if our Joint Services operate in a professional manner, success can be achieved.

It also brings to the fore the notorious, the unconstitutional but failed, approaches used by the politically controlled Military Criminal Intelligence Department (MCID) of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). It is evident that better approaches are required for the interrogation of persons arrested. In fact, evidence is emerging that, should modern professional approaches to crime be embraced, rather than the dangerous Roheeian approach of the extra-judicial executing, on sight of persons labelled criminals, the GPF would be able to rekindle its lost glory and win the support of the people of Guyana.

JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION SACRIFICES WORKERS HEALTH:

It may come as a shock that the Jagdeo Administration could sacrifice the health of the workers of the Ministry of Agriculture as the removal of asbestos, which is a very carcinogenic material, was being undertaken. It is reported that the staff of that Ministry were compelled to remain at work in the building while the asbestos was being removed.

Where were the Minister of Health and the Head of the EPA when this was being done?

It is the usual non-caring approach of this Government, as it pursues its politically partisan and backward approach to every issue in the society. All decent people in Guyana should condemn Minister Robert Persaud for this inhuman act. It is significant that it is this very Minister who described the brutal torturing of Guyanese citizens as merely “roughing up”. It is indeed this same mindset that resulted in the Minister not following the usual practice of having the buildings evacuated when asbestos was being removed.

It is well known that many buildings in Guyana were constructed, with an asbestos component, when this building material was in popular use. There is need, therefore, for a clear national policy to address, as a matter of urgency and national importance, the asbestos problem in Guyana. The roles of the EPA and the Ministry of Health should be clearly recognised and delineated:

• There is need for an inventory of all buildings in which asbestos materials have been installed.
• The Government needs to develop clear rules and regulations to protect the health and safety of those working on the removal of asbestos (the workers should be appropriately clad) and those who occupy those buildings.
• The rules must make it clear that people who are not involved in the removal process should not be occupants of the said buildings while the asbestos is being removed.
• On completion of the removal of asbestos there must be the proper sanitisation of those buildings by a competent authority, in keeping with international standards and regulations.
• The buildings must be certified as being free of asbestos by an independent and internationally certified competent authority before persons are allowed to reoccupy the buildings.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 14 November 2008